When a small-town preacher, Jesse Custer, encounters a force spawned from heaven or hell (or both), he decides to use his newfound power of “The Word” to bring God to account. Teaming up with his gun-toting ex-girlfriend Tulip O’ Hare, and his Irish vampire best chum, Preacher with have to stand his own against anyone who wants to take his power.
Preacher is of course based on the long running and critically lauded comic that ran for 66 issues between 1995 and 2000. I was but a wee teeny bopper, eagerly hoovering up any comic I could get my hands on. I don’t have the same fervour for the comic now; as I think it stumbled about halfway through its run, and, for me, should’ve ended after the “War in the Sun” story-line.
This brings me to the TV series, made by AMC. AMC is famously known as the television company that has been slowly murdering The Walking Dead for 6 seasons, with Preacher they did it in one.
I’ll start with the trio of main characters:
Jessie Custer, here played by Dominic Cooper.
An upright moral hero, who just wants to be “one of the good guys:” Nah, he’s a prick. He uses his powers for petty ends, and when he makes a serious error of judgement later in the series, it tarnishes the character beyond repair. In the comic, his father implores him to be a good guy. In this depiction he fails miserably, sneering, fighting, and damning those around him. Usually I like Cooper, but the character is so far off the mark, it hurts to watch. Cooper plays him as a flat-out asshole.
Sorry if I have misunderstood the comic here, but I never took Jesse as being legitimately religious. He was forced into the church, and it was his hatred of it and God that inspired his journey. On TV, he spouts platitudes and passages from the bible to anyone who will listen.
Tulip O’Hare, played by Ruth Negga.
A strong, independent woman, who is more capable than any man in the comic. On TV? Nah, she’s a whiny creep that can’t live without her man. She is one of the highlights of the comic series, but here is reduced to a petulant, sour-faced spurned woman. I have a real issue with the depiction of women in big American TV shows like this, Breaking Bad, and the Walking Dead. If they aren’t hard-faced bitches, leaving dead bodies in their wake, they are nagging wives, hassling the main character. Think half Carol from TWD and half Skyler White from BB, and you wouldn’t be far off the mark.
Not Negga’s fault, but this is the worst disservice to a character in the series.
Joe Gilgun as Proinsias Cassidy.
I have zero complaints about this one strangely. For an Englishman he does a decent approximation of an Irish accent (he sounds a bit like Pat Shortt). They nailed the character (a rare exception in the series).
The showrunner, Sam Catlin has misunderstood every facet of the comic that makes it great, and “Americanised” it in the worst way. Is there a prevailing attitude in America that there is no good in the world, and everyone is secretly a self-serving sociopath? That certainly seems to be the mood on American TV.
Characters motivations and personalities turn on a dime, and it’s hard to work out who you should be rooting for. For a comic built on the likeability of its leads, the series falls very short.
The series spins its wheels for ten episodes, going nowhere. It needed a sharp jumping-off point, but instead got bogged down in cod-religious bunkum, and was stuck on staying in Annville for an entire series, rather than going for the road-movie type story presented in the comic.
Some of the supporting characters are decent enough. DeBlanc & Fiore provide most of the comedy, and have one of the bloodiest and most amusing scenes as they frantically dispatch an angelic hit woman. Jackie Earle Haley is spot-on as Odin Quincannon, an immoral, meat-obsessed local businessman. His unblinking sociopathy can be very amusing. W. Earl Brown is always solid, so as Sheriff Root he does well, but doesn’t get much too actually do. Arse-face is changed (probably rightly) from the source of a good deal of comedy, to a much more sympathetic character. He seems to fulfil the John Wayne role in the series.
My main problem with the series is the fun-sucking adaption of the source material. The creative team has taken base elements from the comic, and (very) loosely adapted them. It is funny. It is sacrilegious. There is violence. That’s about it.
The series runs for 10 soul destroying episodes. It has the Walking Dead trick down pat: For every good episode, you have to sit through two more boring episodes of exposition and “character development” (i.e. padding) until you get another.
I have seen a series waste time before, but Preacher takes the cake, runs with it, smashes it down for the touchdown, does a funky chicken dance, then dives onto its hands and knees and greedily laps up the pieces like the big disgrace that it is. You make me sick, Preacher!
The father of Jesse Custer says:
“You gotta be a good guy, Jesse. You gotta be like John Wayne: you don’t take no shit off fools, an’ you judge people by what’s in ’em, not how they look. An’ you do the right thing. You gotta be one of the good guys, son, cause there’s way too many of the bad.”
Well, I took too much shit from this series. I’m gonna be one of the smart guys, and stop watching. In 8+ hours of TV there wasn’t one shred of writing on a par with this small part of the comic.
Do yourself a favour…. If you want to watch this, read the first run of the comic first, and then see which is better. I guarantee it won’t be this rancid turd of a TV show.
**slow clap** for Sam Catlin & AMC. Congrats on screwing something up so monumentally that the only resemblance it bears to the source material is the name of the show and characters.
As much as I looked forward to it, and enjoy the 3 leads, Preacher is just too damn boring. Some shows tell you everything, but show you nothing. Preacher tells you nothing and, guess what, won’t show you much either. Too slow, weak writing, thin stretched plot.
All in all, a load of arse(face).